It's that time of year when movie studios begin pumping out the big guns. No, not the shoot-em-up, car chasing, guns ablazing films but the ones they have high hopes will score some nominations for little golden men. Oscar season is my absolute favorite time of year and this year is no exception and I've already begun my movie watching spree. However, some movies are more anticipated than others and this year there are 5 that I am absolutely chomping at the bit to watch. Sadly, I have to be at the beck and call of release dates and limited openings. In the meantime, I'll just talk about them (some more). Below the five films on my MUST SEE plate.
Slumdog Millionaire: This movie is the Juno or Little Miss Sunshine of 2008. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) fashions a heartwarming movie that tells the tale of Jamal, a young lad living in modern day India who is constantly getting into trouble. After Jamal and his older brother witness their mother brutally murdered, they turn to the streets and become slumdogs.
The story takes a turn when Jamal finds himself on India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and finds that he is smarter than he thought and becomes to win buckets of money. However, detractors are not far behind and soon begin questioning how a slumdog knows so much.
This film won the Audience Award at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It's also been rumored that it could snag a nomination for Best Picture (just like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine did).
Milk: Gus Van Sant is back with the first non-documentary about activist and politician Harvey Milk. This film has LONG been in the making; not this particular film but it's been known for many years that different directors and actors were looking to make this movie. Sean Penn snagged the title role and completely immerses himself in the part and into the polyester era.
The movies follows Harvey's rise to being the first openly gay politician and his eventual assassination by city supervisor Dan White. White is played by Josh Brolin, who like Penn, seems to be getting better with age. James Franco, Diego Luna and Emile Hirsch also star in this film that screams OSCAR. By the way, if you look at a picture of the real Harvey Milk and Sean Penn in character as Milk, they really do look the same.
The Reader: Based on the book by Bernhard Schlink, The Reader is a WWII set movie in which a young boy becomes fascinated with an older woman. The woman is played by 5-time Academy Award nominee Kate Winslet. The two begin a relationship and then lose touch. Several years later, they happen upon each other again; this time the boy is in school doing research on and she is on trial. This movie is not a happy one (nor was the book) but the performances are sure to be terrific and Winslet is in not one, but two highly anticipated movies this season. The other is with her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road. Winslet's biggest competition for her sixth Oscar nomination (which she is certain to get for Best Actress unless she get Supporting) is Meryl Streep.
Which brings me to the next film...
Doubt, starring Streep herself. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play and directed by John Patrick Shanley (the playwright himself), Doubt is set in the Bronx in 1964 and tells the story of domineering principal Sister Aloysius (Streep) who when she gets wind that the charismatic Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has been spending too much time with the school's first black studnet, Sister Aloysius decides that something is amiss and that Flynn has to go.
I did not have the pleasure of seeing the play but this film looks HOT. I've heard that some critics think Streep is unconvincing as Sister Aloysius but the trailer looks as if she might be able to pull it off. What makes this film really interesting is the boy's mother is Tony award winning Viola Davis (Nights In Rodanthe, Antwone Fisher) who decides to go toe to toe with Sister Aloysius over matters relating to her son. The scene with Davis and Streep better crackle with energy and the whole movie better be nothing short of brilliant because this is the one of all of them I'm looking most forward to. The cast is rounded out by Amy Adams (so good in Enchanted and Junebug) and there are rumors that this could be the first film in a long time to garner Oscar nominations from all four main actors.
I've Loved You So Long: Kristen Scott Thomas is one of those actresses whose beauty sometimes undermines just how talented she really is. The Academy award winning actress plays Juliette who has recently been released from prison. When she is picked up at the airport by her sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), the two realize how estranged they really are. From the trailer, it looks as if Thomas gives a heart-wrenching, not to mention makeup free performance which could score her her second Oscar nomination.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button: No, this is not an original screenplay (very few are anymore). The movie is adapted from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A man, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt in full make-up mode) is born in his 80's and slowly ages backwards. This is another movie that screams Oscar and it's a good bet this one could make it to the top race come January. That really is Brad Pitt's (almost a shoo-in for his second Oscar nom) face throughout the movie (and not Gollum's better looking cousin). The movie also features Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond and last year's Supporting Actress winner Tilda Swinton.
Defiance: How could I resist the piercing blue eyes of James Bond portrayer Daniel Craig? He plays one of four Jewish brothers in this film based on the true story of said brothers helping Russian resistance fighters guide Jews to safety in Nazi occupied Poland during WWII. The movie also stars Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott all grown up).